Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Road to Ironville

I remember it clearly, I had made a post on a local triathlon Yahoo! Group in July 2009. I was trying to figure out if a local half Ironman race sold out quickly or if I had time to wait, think about it and register for this June 2010 race at a later date which was closer to the actual race day. The unanimous response was that I needed to register NOW! I thought to myself - what if I can't do a half Ironman? What if I get injured between now and NEXT YEAR? And, most importantly, how in the world am I going to cycle through the winter? I mean, this is DC for heaven's sake!

Thankfully, I received a response from the team at Amaiza Fitness telling me that they had training going on currently. And, if I joined their team, I would have CompuTrainers available to get some cycling training all winter long. It wasn't quite the response I was looking for because since 2002 I've probably done about 90% or more of my training by myself. I couldn't even imagine training with a team. What if I'm too slow? What if I'm too fast (okay, I didn't actually think that...)? What if I don't get along with the women on the team? But, having a good way to train on my bike throughout the winter was very intriguing.

In my wildest dreams I could have never imagined how this whole "team" thing was going to play out. The first day I went to train with Amaiza Fitness I went on my own. My coach still tells me she was shocked that I came out by myself to train with them. They were a very tight-knit group and I guess most people would feel a little intimidated to just show up and train. Of course, what she didn't know is that she was dealing with one of the biggest extroverts on the planet!

My first workout with the team was a long run through Algonkian Park. I remember it like it was yesterday. There were men and women of various training levels all running together. I remember a crazy conversation between my coach and a woman who has become a very close friend of mine - Kristen. They had this crazy scattered conversation about keys and bikes and how they were going to get the bikes back home and the keys to the right people. I swear, I felt that conversation pretty much went on the entire run! My second workout with the team was my form of initiating myself into the group. After the bike ride I proceeded to fall, very gracefully and slowly from my bike in front of everyone! From that point on I knew I had made friends for life because they didn't laugh (at least not too loud) at my little incident.

This was a tough winter - 2 blizzards and several other considerable snowfalls. If it weren't for the CompuTrainer I am pretty confident I would just now be beginning my cycling training for a race that is only two months away. Yeah, I would have gone to the gym and rode a stationary bike but it wouldn't be near the same. All winter I trained with people who were considerably better than me - my coach, her husband, a spin instructor, and two much more experienced rockin' tri girls! I couldn't help but improve because these folks left me in their virtual dust all winter long. However, when I go out on the trails now I feel strong. The "hills" I used to struggle with last year don't even get a second thought now. I've gotten stronger and faster training with this team!

I was pretty confident that even if the weather was bad I would still get my other training completed on my own. I was wrong. I didn't really know how much training was involved when training for a race of this distance. If it weren't for my coach and teammates pushing me through the winter I would have given up. I would have sat on the sofa. I wouldn't have set my alarm for those 5 AM swim workouts. My coach motivated me through the winter to attend outdoor track and bootcamp/crossfit style workouts. I would complain but she would just remind me of my goals and I would show up (sometimes begrudgingly) for the workout. I never regretted going to a single workout (freezing temps or not) and was so thankful to be part of a team on so many occasions. Being part of this team motivated me and held me accountable to workouts I might have...would have...missed if I would have been training on my own.

Recently I have felt myself being pushed to my limits and sometimes even beyond. I find that training with other people has a tendency to do that for me due to my competitive nature. I've put in many "useless" miles on my own and I'm glad to finally be making every mile count now. I know it will prove to be beneficial on race day.

So, here I sit, two months from my first half Ironman and I feel confident I'll be able to complete the race. I'm still working on my training but it all seems to be coming together quite nicely. And, as long as I can stay off the injury list I should be good to go by June.

As far as my training partners go - I give them 5 stars and two thumbs up. They are AMAIZING (yes, a play on words) women and have become some of my best friends. I guess that's because we all get the same "beatings" together each week and need the moral support that comes with that! And, my coach, well...there aren't enough AMAIZING words in the world to describe her. Thank you all for your support of me and my goals - you are the greatest!

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